• Dessa

A New Adventure Begins at Dessa

Today we’re excited to announce that Dessa is being acquired by Square! We’ll continue to operate under the Dessa brand, keep our headquarters in Toronto, and be open to collaborations with other organizations or companies. You can read more about it in a blog post from Square, and in a letter from our CEO Stephen Piron below. This is only the beginning—stay tuned for more news about our work together on applied machine learning.


Today we are announcing that Dessa is being acquired by Square. By joining forces, we will be able to build machine learning applications that allow people to do more with their money than ever before, and in general, stretch the limits of what’s possible with AI.

We didn’t plan on this. We crossed paths with Square in a serendipitous way and were excited to discover how closely Square’s mission and vision in building technology align with ours.

We had three big motivations when we started Dessa. The first was to take what was possible with AI to its limits. We started the company in 2016, a heady and historic time for deep learning. The technology was new to industry but starting to build momentum, and inspiration abounded. We made the most of riding on this wave. Joining Square allows us to continue to evolve what’s possible with applied machine learning, and double down on our commitment to doing so.

Our second motivation was to use AI to change financial services for the better. At first, we built deep learning for big banks, hoping to make people’s experience using financial services easier and more efficient. The work we did made an impact, but we knew it had its limits. From day one, Square has been a champion of economic empowerment for people who might otherwise be left behind by traditional financial institutions. We’re excited to build new tools and products with machine learning at Square that will make finance easier for customers around the world.

The final motivation founding Dessa was personal. In many ways, the company is a love letter to Toronto. Right before founding Dessa, I moved back here after 10 years in the UK because I was amazed by Toronto’s rapid development as the birthplace of AI. It’s a real asset to be able to walk over to the University of Toronto and have a chat with the inventors of the technology. Square’s commitment in Dessa is also a commitment to Toronto’s AI community, and together we’re excited to attract and retain even more of the world’s top machine learning talent.

Building companies is a team sport, and all kudos goes to everyone on the Dessa team, past and present. Many members of the team have dedicated countless long nights and weekends to building new things at Dessa of their own volition. Some have moved their lives and travelled from the other side of the planet to be part of our crew—sometimes even moving to Canada in January! While our team is diverse and global, what has united us from day one is a willingness to disregard the limits of what is possible. I’m grateful for their hard work and renegade spirit—this is truly their victory!

While there will be some changes to come, much will remain the same:

  • We will continue to operate as Dessa from our headquarters in Toronto.

  • Foundations users will continue to have access to Atlas and Orbit.

  • I will continue to lead the Dessa team with my co-founders, Eric, Vince, and Ragavan.

Joining Square is only the first step in this new adventure, and I look forward to the future we’re building. Learn more from Square about the acquisition here, and stay tuned for more about what we’re working on together in the coming months.




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